Dettmer, A. M., Slonecker, E., Suomi, S. J. et al. 2018. Dams’ social behaviour and long-term cortisol profiles in response to their infants being nursery-reared. American Journal of Primatology 80(S1), 33 (40th Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists Scientific Program, Abstract #67).
The influence of early rearing experiences on infants’ social and neuroendocrine development is well characterized. However, little is known about the effects of nursery rearing (NR) on the infants’ mothers. Such information is important in welfare considerations. In a two‐part study, we examined rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) dams’ social behavior and long‐term cortisol responses to their infants being NR or mother‐reared (MR). In Study 1, n = 27 socially‐housed females (NR:n = 16, MR:n = 11) were observed 30 days before and 30 days after their due date 3x/week in 5‐min focal sessions to determine frequencies of positive (e.g., social contact, grooming) and negative (e.g., threat, chase) social behavior, and abnormal (e.g., self‐directed) behavior. Paired t‐tests revealed that MR dams showed an increase in positive (t(10) = −4.85,P < 0.01) and a decrease in negative (t(10) = 2.31,P = 0.043) social behavior after their infants’ birth whereas NR dams showed no change. No group differences in abnormal behaviors emerged. In Study 2, hair cortisol concentrations (HCCs) of n = 46 females (NR:n = 15, MR:n = 25, not pregnant:n = 6) taken every three months from pregnancy through peak lactation were examined. Repeated measures ANOVA revealed that only during peak lactation were HCCs highest for MR dams (F(2,86) = 3.44,P = 0.012); no other group or time effects emerged. We conclude that NR is not detrimental to the welfare of rhesus monkey dams. This research was supported by the Division of Intramural Research at NICHD, and by NIH Grant #OD011180.